Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Meaning

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I often hear it said that the problem with birthdays when we get older is they never have the magic we enjoyed as children. Turning 44, for example, isn’t as meaningful as turning 6 or reaching double figures. We’ve long since stopped measuring ourselves against the pencil mark on the door to see if we grew overnight.

And it’s true, we can’t recapture that feeling because we can’t go back to a state of innocence. Once we eat from the fruit of the tree of knowledge, we realise Eden isn’t Eden any more – it never was, only we hadn’t known it before.

So does this mean birthdays should no longer be acknowledged?

Of course not. It just means we need to change the way we look at them.

When we are young, birthdays are about presents, about gaining extra privileges such as a later bedtime or increased pocket money, or being allowed to have sex (if we can find a willing partner) or getting served in a pub (legally).

But as we reach adulthood, birthdays are really a celebration of life. Despite all the efforts of a hostile universe, somehow we have survived another year. We are still alive. And that has to be worth noting.

So what is most important in our lives? What makes surviving another year worthwhile?

If we are to believe the messages we are bombarded with a thousand times a day from TV, magazines, posters, shop windows and our governments who drive the economy based on “growth”, then it is the accumulation of stuff and money. We can judge a person’s success by the car they drive, the neighbourhood they live in, the clothes they wear and the whiteness and straightness of their teeth.

In truth, however, the new iPhone, the latest TV, the fancy shoes etc, give us momentary pleasure only. It doesn’t last and it’s only a matter of time before it’s out of date and we feel we have to buy the next latest, newest, shiniest bauble in order to try and recapture that fleeting feeling of pleasure.

But what truly makes a difference is not the things we own - it is the people whose lives we touch.

It is friendships and deep connections with others that give our lives meaning, not trinkets.

And this birthday I was reminded of this in the most wonderful way possible, when Debra (From Skilled Hands) organised a Kim Ayres International Day with several other bloggers.

Before the day was out, Debra, Mary, Savannah, Eryl, Mapstew, Pat, Attila the Mom, Angry Parsnip, Brave Astronaut and Charlie had all put posts up on their own blogs wishing me a happy birthday and directing others to come over and say hello. And some of them wrote some truly warm and heartfelt things about me.

While I struggled to associate this person they described with how I see myself, there is no doubt they seemed genuine in their sentiments. I felt completely overwhelmed – honoured and humbled that these wonderful people would take the time to do such a thing, just for me.

So this birthday really did feel a wee bit magical.
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22 comments:

Sini said...

Belated Birthday wishes..
Seems like you had a beatiful day..

Mary Witzl said...

The whole week after your birthday is also your birthday when you get older -- someone told me that once and I've embraced it fully. I think it has something to do with how much faster time goes when you hit the big numbers -- you have to squeeze out all the fun you can from the years you have left. So keep that magic going!

I can remember 44 too. Ah, those were the days.

MJ said...

I say we declare this International Kim Ayres Week.

All in favour?

debra said...

All in favor? Aye.

Once when I was waiting for a table at a local restaurant, an elderly fellow asked me how I was. After I responded, he looked me squarely in the eye and said, "Young lady, every day we are on this side of the daisies is a good one." I concur. So, I wish you many, many days of looking at the daisies. (o)

Ponita in Real Life said...

Aye!

Yep, it's the people who cherish us and that we cherish that make life wonderful!

nikgee said...

Happy belated Birthday. Even after 57 of them I still view birthdays as special. A celebration of new life. Each year a new beginning. May you enjoy many happy returns.

TalesNTypos said...

Precious.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

There always seems to be a tsunami of negative news. Things like this are enough to give me hope for humanity.

Do you know how you can tell you're an adult? Snow isn't fun anymore.

hope said...

I, for one, will NEVER stop celebrating my birthday! I know, as a girl person, I'm not suppose to acknowledge after a certain number. Fortunately the adult in me sees birthdays as another victory...another year older and neither Mother Nature or Father Time or the Grim Reaper have claimed me.

The kid in me, however, will always be yelling, "Plus you get chocolate cake!"

You deserved your own day. Cause we like you. ;)

Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

I turned 30 this summer and struggled with the same concept of meaning as the numbers simply increase without progressing toward any exciting milestone. I'm glad you found a way to recapture the magic!

Fay's Too said...

Dear Bearded One! In the words of those life-changing philosophers, BTO "You ain't seen nuthin' yet. . . . b-b-b-baybee you just ain't seen nuthin' yet."
Wait till you get to be fiddy fav! It's just the best ever!
Happy birthday, darlin'

Eryl said...

Job well done then!

UB ~ I still love playing in snow.

Pat said...

And it couldn't happen to a better boy:)

Litzi said...

Hi Kim,
Everyone lives their life by some sort of internalized list of values or moral code, but many people don't take the time to sort out what they really believe in. Because of this disparity, they often feel conflicted when deciding how to make regular choices about time, money, and personal decisions.

If we’ve learned nothing else, hopefully the global financial meltdown will have taught us that conspicuous consumption is not the end-all. Appreciating experiences and the people in our lives is what truly matters at the end of the day.

Falak said...

Every year I measure how great my birthday was by counting the number of people who called me up or messaged to wish me.There is nothing that can beat a Birthday phone call at 12 in the night. Wishing you many more magical birthdays.

Hindsfeet said...

I am so. very. grateful. for you.

Murr Brewster said...

Happy birthday, and keep 'em coming.

Ron Tipton said...

I wholeheartedly agree with you Kim that the most important thing in life are those people whose lives we affect, especially friends and family. Having occupied space on this planet for the past 68 years I can see that clearer than ever now.

Every day I get up and put my two feet on the floor I know that this will be another good day because I'm alive and still causing waves.

I'm glad you're in the world Kim. You make my life and so many other lives richer by sharing your many talents.

Thank you Kim and I hope you have many more birthdays.

Kim Ayres said...

Sini - thank you, I did :)

Mary - Although time used to speed up as I got older, with the CFS it's slowed down considerably. These days a year seems to take 3 years to go past...

MJ - :)

Debra - back when I was about 33 or 34, I remember being on the phone to my dad, moaning about life. He suddenly said "Swap you!" - he did n't care what state my life was in, he'd happily accept it if he could be 30 years younger again. That was an eye opener :)

Ponita - true :)

Nikgee - thank you :)

Adila - :)

UB - Snow is always fun, isn't it? We tend to get so little of it - it mostly just rains in Scotland - that the novelty never wears off

Hope - my father was always a great proposer of birthdays being a celebration of life, until he turned 60. He really didn't like turning 60 and has been much less enthusiastic about them since...

Joey - turning 30 is a big one, I think, much more so than turning 40. When you're 20, you're still barely more than a teenager, and when you're 29 you're still in your 20s. But when you're 30, you're definitely a grown up - you can't pretend any more. I know so many people (myself included) who changed their lives quite considerably within a year or so of turning 30

Fay - Thank you - I'll now have that tune running through my head for the rest of the day...

Eryl - me too :)

Pat - thank you :)

Litzi - while some of us might have learned that, the government and big business certainly hasn't, or doesn't want to. All the talk about how we are supposed to get out of the financial crisis is about growing the economy - that is, we need to go out and start buying again. The economy is based on consumption - it is our patriotic duty to buy and consume...

Falak - it's not really the number of people, but the quality of them :)

Hindsfeet - thank you :)

Murr - thank you :)

Ron - very kind words, thank you :)

Brenda said...

Surfed over from ATM's blog to wish you belated birthday wishes.

Kim Ayres said...

Brenda - welcome, and thank you :)

Carole said...

I am glad your day was a wee bit magical. Wee bit is so much better than little bit. Wee is magic itself. 44 seems so young.